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Don Lattin Education. (2010) Don Lattin ('The Harvard Psychedelic Club').

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Cia 10, Psychedelics 8, Huxley 7, Mexico 7, San Fransisco 7, Us 6, Timothy 5, Cambridge 4, Paul Lee 4, Smith 4, Berkeley 3, Hollywood 3, Mit 3, Harvard 3, Houston 3, Hoffman 3, Ronny Winston 3, New York 3, Osmond 2, Don 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Don Lattin  Education.  (2010) Don  
   Lattin ('The Harvard Psychedelic Club').  

    October 21, 2012
    6:00 - 7:00pm EDT  

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>> to 1961 by a group of four students interested in studying the effects of psychedelic drugs. this is about one hour.
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>> the fall was a half century ago which i just realized that a few days ago. we're closer to 2060 than the 1960s, but we're still talking about the 1960s. last week, across the golden gate bridge from san fransisco, which is where i live, but the first four chapters of the book take place in and around cambridge, and then after that, the action shifts out to san fransisco around 65 when everyone came to san fransisco with or without flowers in their hair, and the cementer of the psychedelic cycle shifted from boston to baghdad by the bay as
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my old colleague at the bay usedded to our city, but before i get to the book, i wanted to start out by talking just addressing a rumor already going around about the book. i don't know who started the rumor, but someone started -- says there's -- on page 108, there's 250 micrograms of lst sprayed on the upper left hand corner. [laughter] now, i want to say unequivocally that that is not true. as a matter of fact, i tore off the corner of that page an hour ago, and i'll say there's absolutely no -- [laughter] change -- the white light, look, look at the white lights, i mean, -- [laughter] oh, maybe it's -- sorry, it's been a crazy couple weeks for me. this is my fourth book, i never
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had this much media interest and early sales like we had the first week. it's mind blowing, pardon the expression again. the "new york times" had a nice review last friday which i'm still floating from that, and there's -- there's a wide range of interest. i was just a few days ago on this show "coast to coast," an am radio, used to be the art bell show, and -- yeah -- and i was on from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. west coast time so that's 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. here. you're amazed how many people are up listening to this show devoted to the paranormal, ufo, new aged mysticism and government conspiracies. it was an interesting three hours, and i'm just recovering from all of that so just a
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weird -- i've been a newspaper reporter for a long time, but i've been writing books which is a weird business because for the last year i've been in the basement in my pajamas finishing the book, and then it's bright lights and big city so if i space out, it's not the acid from page 108. all reviews are good other than one from sf weekly, but alternative weekly, and the guy was set up to hate the book because you can tell from the first seasons it was -- what was it -- yes, another 60's history. when i starts out like that, you know it's going to be all downhill no matter what you say about the 60s, and i can understand that sentiment because, you know, if i was in my 20s or early 30s, i think i'd be sick of listening to all of this old-timers talk about the great-old days of the 1960s so i
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understand that sentiment, but enough preliminary banter. let me talk about the book. actually, that leads to a question that maybe some young people might have or old people for that matter about this. i mean, what do four relics from the 60s, the characters in the book, have to do with how we live our lives today? in other words, why the hell should i read this book? let me briefly count the ways that i think timothy, ron, houston smith, and andrew wile, and, really, the whole counterculture of the 1960s, particularly the psychedelic part of the counterculture, matter to us living here today and see it happening to us right now. this is just a partial list. yogo studios on every corner in the bay area, and probably around here, too, and maybe in topeka, kansas. steve jobs in silicon valley,
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the computer revolution influenced by psychedelics. actually, the guy who invented the mouse, he was -- he created -- he was turned on by a guy who was turned on by richard alpred early on saying he got the idea for the mouse because it's a new way of thinking because of psychedelics. that's one way. organic produce in the local supermarket, the environmental movement, people who say their -- they are spiritual, but not religious. doctors who prescribe meditation for cardiac patients, the unibomber -- long story. the actual revolution, wayne dire medical marijuana, ecstasy fueled raves, and the whole way we think about life, death, and
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nature of reality itself. before i, you know -- i can't explain all those in the short talk. that's why you have to buy my book, but here's the bottom line. i mean, millions of people in my generation, and by that i mean the baby boomers, took lsd and other kinds of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s, and we, including myself, had a profoundly enlightening or simultaneously terrifying soul shattering experiences on the drugs that i don't think we all quite really understood in the sense that, sure, we had amazing experiences, perhaps, and these terrifying experiences, but what happened after the ecstasy? you know, how did psychedelic drugs change the way we live our lives? did they make us better people? make us more aware people? to me, that's the important question. i wanted to -- the book's not about me. i have an after wards talking about my own experiences, and i
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struggled whether to put that in there or come out of the close et, and i am on this, but, you know, my long strange trip began really in high school, which, in my cation, was the late 60s, when i read the last novel called "island" about a cynical reporter ship wrecked on a reporter, goes native, like "avatar," same story line, goes native, takes this medicine and live in cosmic harmony with themselves, and the reporter is native. now, i reread that when i worked on the book, and it didn't farewell with the passage of time. it was not the best novel by any means, but that got me interested in the doors of perception, a book brain in 1954 about experiences on necessary cay lin in the spring of 1953, and he was given mescalin by a
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doctor, dr. humphries osmond, and he was guided on that trip by osmond. they coined the word "psychedelic" together, and they had several different words that they thought about using, and they would make up little couplets and rhymes to see how words sounded in a sentence or a poem, and the poem for psychedelic was to fathom hell or soar angelic, take a pinch of psychedelic. that sealed the deal, i guess, with that word. well, i was in utero in new jersey when this happened when huxley had a baptismal trip in the hollywood hills in 1953 # and later wrote in "the doors of perception" about staring down
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at the grave flannel trousers, the is-ness of the trousers and looked at the curtains in the library and reflected the mir rack -- miraculous fact of sheer existence, all so beautiful, another expression we said back in those days. well, "the doors of perception" gave birth to the psychedelic drug culture and sparked something in my personally, a desire to alter my state of consciousness in a different way, looking into my heart and mind, and there would be many such journeys for me and ecstasies and agonies and some were profound joys, and others, a terrifying experience that i wrote about where i basically had a psychotic break and didn't come down for a couple weeks and had flash backs. yeah, they are real. i thought they were anti-drug propaganda, but they are reel. it was a difficult time in my life for a couple weeks or even
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months. this happened to me in the fall of 1972 when i went to uc berkeley to start college, and, i mean, that trip scared the hell out of me, it did, and i promised never to do psychedelics again. few months later, you know, but i want to make it clear i think the drugs can be dangerous cycle, especially psychologically dangerous. i'm not advocating people use them happen hasrdly by any means and, plus, most are illegal. i was with an older crowd, 15 years older than my who lived in the best part of the 1960s in san fransisco. i felt i missed the early years, and i was the kid who wanted to keep the party going, getting my friends, you know, experiencing all of these things and tripping and all of that, and i probably played that role longer than i should have, but, you know, my
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love and fear of the drugs led me to some, you know, finding other ways, kinder, gentler ways to explore the realms we talk about here, and that sparked in me religious mysticism which is why i'm a religion reporter for the secular press for 25 years for the san fransisco examiner and chronicle. it was these experiences that got me interested in that originally, but in the end, i realized it's not about the drugs. i mean, it's about taking those experiences we have, like the wander, the awe, the feeling of interconnectedness, and finding a place for that in the rest of our lives. that, i think, is what it is important. before the book, the harvard psychedelic club, they all had their own way of coming to grips with the craziness of the 60s, and the 70s, and bringing that into their lives so first of all, since this just did start
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right here, i wanted to do -- i want to do two readings from the book. the first is short, and it's -- it's about when these four guys crossed paths in harvard in the fall of 196 # -- 1961, an extraordinary time in history, as mentioned in the enter doux, a time of -- introduction, a time of optimism and optimism and no one like him before was in the white house talking about home and change -- sound familiar? you know, yeah, so get a drink and i'll do the first reading. this is from chapter -- i mentioned the first four chapters basically take place here, and this is chapter called "crimson tide," and it's about the role of the harvard crimson, which i think is, like, right around the corner; right, and andy wile in the whole affair of
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bringing down timothy and don. "you sat in a chair to which the name of one of your predecessors, franklin d. roosevelt, class of 1904 carved in the wood, and another editor, john f. kennedy, class of 1940. if the crimson didn't show up, we were called to the office, and mcgeorge bundy, the dean of the faculty of harvard before kennedy tapped him as national security adviser. kennedy's presidency, the rise and fall of camelot, was the backdrop for some of the most extraordinary scenes and events in the lives of houston smith, andrew wile, richard and timothy. kennedy little bitted in the fall of 1960, the same season the harvard class of 1964 moved
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to cambridge to start undergraduate studies. on the very day kennedy defeated nixon and was elected president, november 8th, 1960, huxley and his connection, osmond met lerry to work with them on the project as it was called then. the president and editor in chief of the harvard crimson at the height of the kennedy presidency. he would graduate, get hired by "news week," and go to berkeley to cover the free speech movement. the protest kicked off a decade of unrest at schools across the nation. just a year earlier, pat harvard, such a thing, inconceivable. quote, "going to berkeley was a change for me, a different place." he was action and organizing, gestures matter more than well reasoned arguments, which is the
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way we did things at harvard. the last big story at the crimson involved two psychology lecturing professors, but a staff writer named andy wile proposed the investigation and did most of the digging. it seems like a strange story for wile to be covering. until then, he had done arts coverage for the paper, theater reviews, and things like that. he also worked as an editorial writer on the opinion page. wile is best remembered as an overweight, cigar chomping, practical jokester. at a time, a rivalry waged between the national harpoon, statue on the building, and andy took the bird, took pictures and sent them over to taunt the lampoon. that's how people remember them at harvard in the early years here.
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he was not kidding on the opinions about the research project. andy came to me when i was president of the crimson telling me he thought we ought to take a look at what they were doing. they were giving lsd to students which is actually not true. giving psychedelics to students who were at that time under graduates including some psychologically on the fence, some of whom were going nuts. there was o guy on the staff hospitalized for a mental condition after getting lsd from the crowd, which i was never actually able to confirm or find the guy, but app di thought there was more of it, and either way, they were not following the belle made with the university which was not to give drugs to undergraduates. he began a research project, and he was -- wait a minute, sorry.
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began the project, trying to see -- giving drugs to graduate students, convicts, and seminarians -- [laughter] they were in andover knewson. it was called the good friday experiment. [laughter] while -- i'll get to that later, actually, but, you know, the graduate students wrote reports on their experiences of the drugs, and while cambridge was losing some of the best and brightest to the kennedy white house, other interesting characters were coming in to take their place then, and some of them are in the book. one is allen jins berg, one the crazy jewish gay poet, he was in town, always in town in the 60s
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and 70s, william burroughs, the writer in the attic, and we can guess what he was up to. huxtley, the great essayist, happened to be in cambridge for a couple months. amazing how all the people came together at that time. he was at mitt giving a serious of licktures, the sen centenniaf mit, and like, i, you know, i mentioned they met when -- met the night kennedy was elected, and then a thousand days later, the day that on the day huxley died in hollywood hills in 1963, the same day that jfk was gunned down in dallas, exact same day. that's why people never saw huxley's obituary. he was ill for a few months, and hours before the death, his wife, lora injected him with a moderate dose of lsd to usher
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him into the next world, and timothy had flown out a few weeks before giving the lsd for that purpose. i wanted to do another reading, a bit longer. i want to leave time for questions. this is the story of timothy's first psychedelic trip which is what started all of this. this is from the beginning of chapter 2 of the book which is called titled "turn on," and it's in mexico in the summer of 1960. timothy leery brought the bull of mushrooms up to the nose and sniffed. the smell reminded him of musty new england basements or a downed tree rotting in a damp forest. it was now or never. he placed one of the black things in the mouth and followed up fast with a cold chaser of mexican beer. they tasted worst than they
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smelled, bitter, stringing, and he stuffed the rest in the mouth, washed it down with a few gulps of alcohol. it was supposed to be just a regular summer veigh dation cation, time to relax before starting the new academic year. he and his son, jack, now 10 years old, scouted out the city and found a villa for represent, a rambling white house with scarlett trim next to a golf course. a name comes from the aztec word of placed near trees, known as the city of eternal spring, its year round climate made it a popular get away spot for hollywood hairs, crime bosses, and the german born psychologist who studied social customs in a mexican village down the road from the leery villa.
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the man who offered a post at harvard was on retreat working on a book in a nearby town 10 miles away. the one with the most impact was a university of mexico linguist and anthropolings in the area translating ancient aztec text. he was renalling -- renting the villa named after a wealthy ash who built the place from new mexico. they had settled in, waiting for the arrival of frank and richard. the university of mexico had been hanging around the villa, didn't know him, but he hung around and joined the swimming pool and the lively conversation they were having. in one of the conversations, not to mention he knew a woman named
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crazy wona, a mexican shaman, who collected magic mushrooms on the slopes of a nearby volcano. they remembered how he talked last year in italy about the wanders of the mysterious fun guy. maybe that's what they needed to spice up the vacation. see if you can find some. the mushroom connection deliver on the afternoon of august 9th, 1960. botanists classify these, and known as the flesh of the god. the secret religion that vowndz them was up known to the american public until an event three years earlier when "life" magazine published a long and sympathetic story in the issue of june 10th, 1957. the piece was written by r. gordon wassan, a new york banker
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who liked to travel the world with his exotic russian-born life in search of exotic mushrooms. this recounts the adventures he and the photographer friend, allen richardson, had in mexico in 1965 when they were the first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms. with the help of a local guide, they found a bountiful harvest in the mountains. they brought the plants to a thatched roof home of eva mendes. i love this. we showed our mushrooms to the woman and her daughter. they cried out in rapture over the firmness, the fresh beauty, and abundance of the young spes mens. besides the altar adorned with
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flowers and icons, pictures of jesus, and baptism in the river, they ate 12 and had a night long journey into worlds he thought he never newseums more real to me than anything i saw with my own eyes. they were in vivid color, harmonious, art motiffs, and then they e volve -- turned into palaces, arts, gardens, semiprecious stones. i saw a mythological beast drawing a char yacht. it was as though the walls of the house dissolved, and my spirit flew forth in midair seeing scapes of mountains and caravans advancing across the slopes, mountains rising tier to the very helps. that was wassn's description.
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five years later, sitting by a pool in a mexican villa, he had his encounter with the flesh of the gods. two people at the pool abstained. one was ruth, concerned about what the effects would have on her unborn child, and the other was a friend of a friend hanging around the villa the previous night. he was called whiskers who suffered from nervous fits, and these might drive him over the edge. he came on to the drug, and at first, he couldn't stop laughing. there was whiskers by the pool, bathing trunks, on top of it all, wearing green garters, black socks, and leather shoes. he took notes whim the rest tripped off to mushroom land. he was like a shrink on speed. could not stop laughing.
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oh the the pomposity of scholars, he staggered into the house, bag to the pool or rubbery legs. he remembered the kids, his kids. who is watching the kids? what would the kids think? he called over to the sober ruth. you may have six psychotic nuts on your hands, sent the kids to the movies and the maid, lock the gates, stay close, and watch us. he was losing it. someone asked how do you feel? he couldn't speak. it was all too much. everything around him started taken on the shimmer and glimmer. how do i feel? far away, gone, far, drifting off cavern of sea lights, making his way back to the house, he fell on the bed, into the arms of another woman who took the mushrooms. bodies like warm foam rubber,
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marsh mellow flesh, mermaids, poking fingers through by -- bikinis, hollywood words buzzed from mouth, stop talking, look outside -- god, the sea! deep plants twirling together, not even the plants know which leaf, which stem belongs to the interconnected -- giant foam palm time, oh, wow, my god. that's all in italics. everything was in his head. everything was quivering with life, even inanimate objects. he saw palace, temples, pleasure tents. they came in silk gowns, breathing color and flaming emeralds followed by jeweled
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serpents. three hours passed like an instant. at one point, he realized friends showed up. he slid back into reality not wanting to return, but knowing he had to play host and he was almost sober enough to pull it off. we took mushrooms he explained to the guests. absolutely amazing, go in the kitchen, make yourselves a drink. we'll get supper in a bit. another hour passed, and he was back from his visionary voyage. seven mushrooms and a bottle of blanca. that's all it took. he was forced to confront the beliefs, the ride shattered the foundations of his philosophy of life and view of himself. what we call "reality" was a social fabrication, a game. he would later call the trip the deepest religious experience of my life. he came back here in the fall of
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1960, and he was absolutely on fire. he was convinced he was going to change the world. first revolutionized psychology and then changed the world. he and the gang had profound experiences on the drugs, but they really knew nothing about religion. they were secular scientists, clinical psychologists, not religious people, and they were having religious experiences so they brought -- they wanted to bring huxley in because he was hanging around, giving lectures at mit, as the theological consultant, but he was too busy, so he recommended a friend of his, houston smith. smith was writing about mysticism and meditating, but never had a real experience. he wanted to try that so he came over to the house on new year's day, 1961, and he got a double dose, and houston is 90 years
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old now, lives in berkeley. i interviewed him, moved recently into assisted living center, but when he talks about this trip on new year's day, the eyes light up like a little kid and say, oh, don, what a way to start the 60s. [laughter] yeah. anyway, this research project turned into a crusade. the party got too wild who is an ordained minister. they promised not to use undergraduates as psychedelic testers, but he couldn't resist the temptation to bring attractive young men into the fold like an undergraduate named ronny winston. he was the son of harry winston, the wealthy diamond jewelry designer, manufacturer, and ronny was also a very good friend and doormate of andy
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wiehle. unlike ronny, andyfuls not in with the "in crowd," and was jell los of winston's most favored student status and took it pop himself to bring down al fred. working as a spy for the harvard administration and as a reporter for the "harvard crimson," wiehle went to harry winston, the father, and threatened to put his son's name in the newspaper unless he told the president of harvard that the professor gave him drugs. and i'm a reporter, that's playing hardball. he was working as both a spy for the administration and a reporter which is ethnically questionable. others were involved in this, but they didn't want to testify because they were part of the
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project. they loved it. they didn't see anything wrong with it, and ronny, under the threat of having the name put in the crimson and pressure from the father, he went to the president's office and was asked did the professor give you these? ronny winston said, reluck at that particular timely -- reluctantly, yes, sir, he did, and it was the most educational experience i had at harvard. [laughter] well, they didn't care about that. [laughter] they wanted to get rid of them. i mean, this probably would have happened anyway because they were loose cannons so while the deal was wiehle and the crimson got the story first when they fired them, and so wiehle did the story along with a vicious editorial -- i mean, a vicious editorial against them that was published the same day and co-written by lyle calling them
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like a virus infecting the campus community. really, really vicious stuff. they were kicked out of harvard. leery on a three year deployment, going to leave any ware, but left earlier because of that. they were out of a job and thrust into the national spotlight as the dynamic duo of the psychedelic revolution that was starting to sweep across the country. he goes on to garage watt from harvard medical school, leading proponent of complementary medicine, bringing together the best of east and west and natural living. smith solidified the reputation as the leading scholar in the world's religions. alpert went to the world and became a spiritual teacher. leery targeted by the cia, the fbi, and labeled by nixon as, quote, "the most dangerous man in america."
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to which leery replied, oh, yeah? i got america surrounded. [laughter] he got thrown in it prison op a very minor drug charge, marijuana charge, only to escape with the help of the underground, smuggled to algeria where he was held prisoner later by the black panthers, then escaped to swits land, kicked out there, went to afghanistan, kidnapped by the cia, and brought back and thrown back in prison, and the story goes on, but i want to leave time for questions. anyway, 50 years passedded since the events, and i talked with winston, spent three days interviews ron, he's alive, had health problems and new ones lately, actually, but spent three days interviewing ron in maui and talked to andrew wiehle in southern arizona.
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no question about the facts of what happened in this story. there's no question. andrew is not -- is ashamed of what he did, tried to apologize many times over the years. he was an ambitious undergraduate, and he admits it, and used that to propel himself at harvard, to advance. that's how the game was played, and on the surface, they made up, even there was a fundraiser to help with medical bills they had, but when you talk to him, he admits he still has not forgiven an draw for what he did back at the dawning of the age of aquarius, and like the rest of us, good or ill, we're living with the fallout from all of that. it's -- i got 20 minutes so thank you for the attention, and -- [applause] do you have questions or
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comments? >> does ron winston think it was a seminal experience? you mentioned the quote he said it was the best educational experience or something. >> yeah, i don't know if i actually asked him that question. he still is very -- he still remembers it fondly, had not spoken in a long time, but i i don't know that i asked him that particular question. i think when his case, like many cases, just something he tried once, and it was an important experience for him at the time, and he went on to go into his father's business, and -- but i don't know that i asked that particular question. i wish i did. yeah? >> first of all, thank you. can you talk a little about the role of the cia in this story? you mentioned them towards the end. i'm actually a little bit more interested in the role in the
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earlier part of the story, the discovery of lsa and early research on lsd and how that fits into the story, and then what was interesting about the research was there were early indications according to the level of recidivism -- cops -- short version -- >> recidivism -- >> took lsd with prisoners and they trip and then the prisons guided sort of would realize they didn't need to play the cops and robbers game nymphs one version and didn't see the reason to be back in jail once they were out. >> right. >> well, in the early data supported that, is this any evidence about that kind of thing that goes beyond just that
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early, early account? >> yeah, okay. first part of the question -- thanks. first part of the question was about the cia, all kinds of fascinating stuff out about the cia's involvement in secretly funding all kinds of research with psychedelics in the 1950s and into the 1960s, and i -- the reason -- well, i didn't really get into that in the book because it's not really about that for one thing, and there's been some other really great books already written about that, which i cite in the bibliography. i didn't go into it. the cia -- when they were kicked out of harvard, went first down to mexico -- followed by the cia, documents proved that true, followed to mexico by the cia. one accused them of setting up a happiness hotel in mexico, and he said we should have hired the cia as the press agent. [laughter] so, yeah, there was all kinds of
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credible research about the cia. that's it. i don't really get into it, and the other question about the good of it -- the concord prison project, someone in the audience did a fantastic follow-up study -- good friday and -- and you -- the problem with that research, i think, if i understand it right, was that, yeah, they tripped with these prisoners, and they spent a lot of time with them, counseling them after they got out of prison, and, sure, they reduced recidivism rates. if you took people and didn't give them drugs and spent that much time helping them and counseling them, you reduce the recidivism rate. it's hard to tell what effect was from the drug and the other attention showered on them. you don't know what the right kind of control group -- >> misrepresentation of the results of the study?
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>> yeah. >> so a 35 year follow-up, permission from the governor's office, tracked the people down, and leery had the one dose miracle cure, and he started realizing that when you get people out of prison that they need halfway houses, and just as he was realizing that, he was kicked out of harvard, and so then what happened was that more and more anti-drug propaganda and lsd propaganda came out so he decided to do what we call scientific fraud and say it was great, but there was no difference at all, at all. he claimed there was. actually, i did a follow-up study because i thought it was going to be evidence of a great success, and so the message is that you can have -- well, here's the -- difference between a religious experience and religious life. >> right. >> you need the support afterwards.
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psychedelic research started again at harvard at the mcclain hospital. we'll have a conference, biggest in the united states. >> i was going to plug it so you do it. it's your conference. >> no -- >> it's great work. >> there's research happening, and we are showing it relieves pstd, end of life anxiety, we'll do this in a sophisticated way. >> it was leery primarily responsible, i think, for the crack down on scientific research, not just the overall war on drugs, but, you know -- >> had a lot to do with it. >> yeah because -- >> [inaudible] the culture was not ready for it. the timing of your book is tremendous. >> thank you. >> we need to be looking at these things to figure out lessons of that to make it so it doesn't have a backlash. >> it's taken a half century almost. >> 19 years in the u.s. in
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april, 15th and 18th in san jose. people from all over the world talking about psychedelics. >> do you have literature? >> we do. >> yeah. >> thank you. [laughter] >> just as a throw out, later started a bunch of things, one of which was called prison project, nothing to do necessarily with psychedelics, but it did all of the other comp -- complimentary things on practice. can you say anything about that, about the saving vision, but the project -- he never let go of that ball. >> yeah, no. >> he was the guy who kept in on that. >> like i said and like you mentioned about what houston said on psychedelics, the question is -- yeah, you can have a religious experience, but do you live a religious life, a good life, spiritual life? what do you do with the experience? he's an example of someone who
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never renounced psychedelics and probably tripped every once in awhile, but he basically, you know, he was inspired to start of lot of charitable organizations including the ones you mentioned in the foundation, and, you know, he is also showed a lot of, i think -- helped a lot of us understand the experiences and how to bring them into our lives and how to get something positive out of this. i mean, there was a lot of wreckage from this era, a lot of, you know, people never came back from some of these trips, and i think it was exaggerated. the dangers were exaggerated at the time because of the propaganda, you know, nixon administration and ul of that, but i think he did great work. >> you might say one of the message was you can have a religious life in the world, stay in the world, you don't have to drop out, but he did,
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but you request have an interior life and a worldly life and try to not necessarily successfully, but try to bring the two together. >> yeah. all four of the guys stirred the waters of the social change in the 60s, but the leery never really found an anchor in a way, i don't think. went from this to that, that fad to that. he tried to walk on water because, yeah, he was a maniac, had a messiah complex like you can't believe. stand in front of a theater mark key in new york city and said timothy leery, the reincarnation of jesus christ. if that's not a messiah complex -- >> [inaudible] >> didn't he end up with gordon? that was earlier than that, in the mid-60s, an assistant da,
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and the first person to arrest timothy was gordon, ten years before watergate. he made a name for himself by getting leery because they wanted to get leery, and he called himself g. gordon, and later -- leery had a sense of humor. he was a brilliant guy. i have a love-hate thing with the guy when i really started researching the book. later op, he e became friends with g gordon liddy, and they went on the road together, a lecture circuit, two guys trying to sell books, you know? he 4 -- he 4 a sense of humor. >> standup comedy in harvard square. >> yeah. >> i have recollection, but i've never seen the tape, i guess, timothy had a nationally
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televised debate down at mit. do you know about that? >> i know nothing about that, sorry. >> 1968. i guess it was on whatever pbs was called then. >> these guys led such full and fascinating lives that there was so much material that i couldn't research it all, and there was so much written, little written about app drew's role in this, it's been mentioned a few times, but not the details i described. i sort of, in a way, focused on the periods where they intersect, and so there's a lot, the cia, stuff that's obviously left out. >> seems like the media puts things in little ten year categories, but i think the 60s were an incubator, and talk about a ten year eras, it was 67-77, and 74, and new york was the ultimate 1977. there's a good argument for the
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70s, actually. >> when i say "06s," i don't mean 1960-69. we see, like, indian bedspreads, jefferson airplane, the grateful dead, all of that. these guys, none of that happened yet. they were, you know,ing looking like madmen, that great show, little button down, thin ties. 66 they were dressing like that listening to myles davis. the rock thing had not happened yet. it was a whole different era, but it really did start here. i mean, you -- they set up communes around the house, and they were like, the first, you know, hippy communities that we lived in during college in the 60s and 70s, you know? they really did start something. there's no doubt about it. san fransisco gets the credit for it, but it really started here. >> in 62 they are reverend
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turman -- >> there's a chapter in the book called "sinners and saints," two long sections, one about the prison project, and the other is about the good friday experiment, which, again, rick should have written the chapter. basically, they had 20 -- i mentioned it, yeah, yeah, but you did a follow-up study, and basically you found that most of these people still remembered -- they asked me about ronny winston -- probably the same -- i would guess it would be the same. the day, you know, profound experiences, honored them, didn't become drug addicts, some ministers, some didn't, but it had a long term positive effect on their life. it did. >> did leery and abb hoffman meet? >> i'm sure they did.
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yeah. leary was a government informanet in the 70s to get out of jail. some people said he didn't give real legitimate information, but i think he got a couple lawyers in trouble who worked for the underground or the left. i don't know if it was hoffman, and allen ginsberg and brought the son, jack, to denounce him. i mean, most made up over the years, but people hated leery for years after that. >> did you talk to jack? >> i trieded to. >> [inaudible] >> i tried to. yeah, i got -- i found the phone number, and i called him, and he didn't respond. he was not given -- somebody told me he might be writing his own book. i don't know if that's true.
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he -- every time he's been quoted about this, e he doesn't like how it comes out. it's a complicated relationship. he never really recop -- reconciled with his father: there's a bit about that in the book. people there at the death bed say, you know, they thought they reconciled, but from jack's point of view, they never -- that's my understanding. i did not talk to him. >> [inaudible] >> actually, i said it didn't start out with the acid rock sound track, but it became that. when the movie is made, and, by the way, it might be -- [laughter] getting some calls, anyway, the sound track, you know, would be incredible because, well, john lennon read "the psychedelic experience," and ralph, who should be on the cover of this book as he was the other member
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of the psychedelic club, but he's a big part of the book. when lennon had his first trip r he was reading and using as a guide and then wrote a song "tomorrow never knows," the last song on, i think, not -- resolver, and if i got the chronology right, it was the guitar infused psychedelics before sergeant peppers with the full flowering, and then "come together" was written in a way originally as a campaign song, at least thed idea for it, was a campaign song. leery ran against reagan for governor, and the -- it was not "come together,," but that was the moe -- motto. later, he renounced leary, said
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nasty things about him, but all of that was the west coast scene, really a whole different scene. i mean, some connections -- actually, alpret is the connection teaching at stanford in the late 50s. the reason he was not there in 1960 because he was at stanford and/or cal teaching. there are some connections, but the thing was really sprit, and funny thing is there's a chapter in the book if you come to san fransisco. they had no idea this was going op. they were still with the little ties and button down, came out, delivered a series of academic papers in a conference, and there's a story of the guy, paul lee, worked with them, had a party before the conference, and they -- a big mansion in the foothills, and they wanted to have -- it was a preconference party, like a cocktail party
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like at harvard, and so they went out there, and they wanted to hire appropriate music, you know, for the party. they hired the grateful dead, just started calling themselves that at the time, and paul lee tells this great story where he was the main organizer, and he was out this, and they couldn't believe it. there were, you know, little kids and grandmothers running naked by the pool and everybody -- alley, the chemist there in a powdered blue jump suit handing out lsd to anyone who wanted it, and paul lee didn't take any because he had to give a paper the next morning and already tried it, actually, but they were all leaning back, you know, by the pool in the grass waiting for the dead to start playing, coming on to the acid, and someone announced, one of the hosts announced the neighbors need us -- everyone to move their cars. we're blocking -- there's a horse stable next door, and we're blocking the driveway. everyone just -- paul lee
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thought, oh, my god. the whole conference falls apart. people, if they get the keys in the ignition, there's a game of psychedelic bumper cars, police come, we get arrested, but another miracle was that they all went out and orderly moved the cars, came back, and the band played on. it all came out good. we have a couple more minutes. >> [inaudible] >> i don't know. >> [inaudible] >> i don't know. yes? >> five years ago someone died, obituary in the new york times, a psychologist said he was hired to administer lsd basically gave it to a few hippies, did rude tests in the village and found out he was paid by the cia so i think some of this cia experimentation was pretty, you know, rudimentary and not like a
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big conspiracy that people make it out to be. >> yeah. >> my question to you, looks like a great book. >> thank you. >> there was the psychedelic reader, was going to be an academic journal. i don't see you mentioning that in the index, and i don't see you mention hoffman's book "my problem child," can you comment op that? >> i mention hoffman, but i don't know if i mentioned the book. they had a love -- hoffman had a love-hate thing with leery. >> what happened to the psychedelic reader? >> i've seen it. there was the harvard psychedelic review, before that, i'm not sure. ralph i think was maybe the editor of that, not leery. >> [inaudible] >> yeah, yeah. like i said, there's so much, you know, i just couldn't get it in. i really had to skim across the top of the story to get it all told. i mean, and especially after
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they leave harvard, so much happened with all four of the guys. i have not talked about smith, a wonderful man, you know, born in china, methodist missionaries, interesting story. it's in the book. >> one last question. >> one more. >> you mentioned allen ginsberg if the talk. as a result of the research, what's your impressions of him, his role in this, and, you know, where does he hit into all ofz&s this? >> like i think i mentioned, he just pops up, you know, on the cusp of everything, you know, and alar -- earlier on with the beats story and all of that. he played a role -- i mean, he would -- he was with leery, you know, when it started, and he was an influence, i think, how they looked at the drug experiences because he was interested in buddhism even then i believe so, you know, i think, and huxley and ginsberg i think
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both pushed in that direction. i think the drugs -- what you think you're going to -- your expectations has to do what happens, and if you think it's an eastern mythical experience, i think it helps make it that, and more than ginsberg, it was huxley. they had the book of the dead to use for the guide to the "psychedelic experience," the book they wrote. any way, we want time to sign books and all of that. thank you so much. [applause]
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>> here's a look at books published this week:

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